Tabatha Wharton

musings of an aging millennial trope

{musings of an aging millennial trope}



Violence UnSilenced: Me, Too.

{this post originally appeared on Violence UnSilenced in November 2009}

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It comes back in waves, erratic waves that send chills down my spine, covers my skin in goose bumps and brings tears to sting my eyes. Little things, like tripping over my own feet, the boy next to me grabbing my wrist in an effort to keep me from falling.

And I scream.

*****

I don’t even really want to talk about it anymore. I’ve talked about it so much, so often, too many times, to too many people who haven’t believed me or didn’t want to listen or who shut it out or who used it to hurt me, again and again. I’ve told it so many times through the mania and the depression that in retrospect it probably triggered that sometimes the details change – God, don’t the details always change after this long? – and sometimes I’m not sure what really happened and what didn’t anymore. And too many people will tell me my version, any version, is wrong. I’m wrong.

And since, my God, since. That was the first time I almost died. It’s happened so many times since then it’s become silly to count. That party, where I was roofied. That guy, who tried to bash my head in, who broke into my house. The other guy with the raging coke habit. That car accident. Those pills. And those other pills. The booze, the late nights-come-mornings, the loss of brain cells and burial of events so far in my psyche that I became free in my captivity, fell in love with my captor so rapturously that I sang my sorrows like an aria from the darkest opera that I never saw when victimization became characterization and I was a shell of a soul, talking but not walking my own sordid path.

And I became haunted by a ghost.

A ghost I can’t remember.

A person I can’t remember.

A night I can’t remember.

A life I can’t remember.

*****

Ten years later.

This August marks a decade.

I’m married now. I have a son – oh, what a mindf*ck that is – and more pets than any quasi-sane person should own. I have friends who don’t know, and I’ve quit telling them, no longer wanting to let that be my signifier, stopping wearing that scarlet letter on my chest.

I try to fill my life with love now. Real love. Where how damaged and broken I’ve become doesn’t matter any more than my ACT scores. And where the people who see me as Less Than are no longer the markers by which I judge myself.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle. That it doesn’t adversely affect my relationships, because no one can really be trusted, nor can they really love me. That I’m not still caught off guard by a scene in a movie, causing me to bolt out of the room without explanation. That the sound of metal hitting bone makes me throw up in my mouth. That I will never sit in the backseat of an American made car. That I still hate driving that stretch of highway. That sometimes it’s too much and I drink or shop or exercise my demons away, for now.  

That someone grabbing my wrist will forever make me scream. 

And that sometimes, a story, these stories, pull commiseration out of the depths of my shattered, walled-off soul and I can’t help but this one last time to finally stand up and say, me too.

Me, too.

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Violence UnSilenced
A national speak-out platform dedicated to eradicating domestic violence and sexual abuse by giving survivors a voice
(2009-2014)

For approximately five years, Violence UnSilenced served as a volunteer platform for other writers to share their stories. Maggie Ginsberg created the project and curated the posts, which were all written by survivors of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault. She also moderated the community of readers that read and supported the writers. Violence UnSilenced evolved into a nonprofit with a board, which eventually moved to dissolve and shutter the site when it could no longer serve the survivors to the best of its ability. They were the priority throughout the project.

—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin